The Global Logistics Services Inc. (GLS) and the National Aviation Services (NAS) joint venture company yesterday broke ground for the construction of a new 2,700 square meter cargo terminal valued at US$11 million at the Roberts International Airport (RIA).
According to GLS-NAS, the Roberts Air Cargo Center (RACC) is aimed at improving the RIA’s air cargo operations to meet international standards and support export supply capacity in Liberia.
The size of the facility currently fulfills a 14 year forecasted baseline demand and can be further expanded up to 3,553 square meters.
At the ground breaking ceremony held yesterday, GLS-NAS General Manager Axel Coulibaly said that GLS-NAS has been operating at the RIA for over a year, during which the company’s operational improvements helped grow the airport’s cargo handling capacity by almost 60 percent.
The current construction is expected to be completed by April 2020, the GLS-NAS official indicated.
The ceremony brought together Liberia’s Minister of Transport, Samuel Wlue; ECOWAS special Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde O. Ajisomo; an official of the Ministry of Public Works, and the Acting Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority, (LAA) Bishop J. Allan Klayee, among others.
“With the new warehouse, we will not only build capacity but also offer diverse solutions for a variety of industries dealing with perishables, fresh produce, livestock, pharmaceutical and temperature sensitive cargo. We can also handle high value shipments that require special security, all of which will serve to attract more cargo airlines to the airport, while focusing on safety and security,” Mr. Coulibaly said.
According to him, the state-of-the-art warehouse will be one of its kind with extended racking for storage, temperature controlled cold storage, walk-in freezers, dangerous goods storage, a vault, mail area and five loading docks that can be extended up to eight. “The facility will also house a dedicated area for customs inspections and other government agencies.”
“A separate freighter stand will also be developed by the Liberia Airport Authority to accommodate freighter parking for larger aircrafts such as the Boeing 777F,” Mr. Coulibaly said.
“An off-the-grid facility, RACC will be self-sufficient in terms of power, water and sewage disposal. It also includes sustainable design features based on the principles of ‘NetZero Emissions’ and ‘Green Building’ design.”
Mr. Coulibaly said the GLS-NAS currently operates out of the existing warehouse at RIA, handling nine airlines and over 2200 metric tons of cargo annually. “Again, our customer base includes Arik Air, Kenya Airways, Air Cote d’Ivoire, Brussels Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Air Peace and ground handling for the DHL cargo aircrafts.”
According to him, NAS provides ground handling services to seven of the world’s ten leading airlines, has an average on time performance of 98 percent across its operations, is ISAGO, ISO, OHSAS and RA3 certified and has demonstrated expertise in supporting local hub carriers in these countries.
He said NAS also manages 35 airport lounges and offers an expanded portfolio of aviation services that include innovative technology solutions.
Peter Malcolm King, chairman of GLS-NAS, said “We are excited to kick off the construction of our new, modern cargo terminal at the RIA. The Roberts Air Cargo Center will be the first of its kind in Liberia, providing the much needed infrastructure to enhance air cargo supply chain operations, improve trade barriers and boost Liberia’s potential as a hub in the Mano River Sub-region.”
However, part of the 25-year air cargo operations concession awarded to GLS-NAS by the government of Liberia, GLS-NAS is tasked with design, finance, build, maintenance, operation and transfer (DFBMOT) of this new modern cargo facility at RIA.
ECOWAS special Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde O. Ajisomo, described the ground breaking of cargo terminal as a great move for the sub-region.
Acting Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Bishop J. Allan Klayee, said he was grateful to President George M. Weah for his efforts to ensure that the airport meets international standards and recommended best practices.
“President Weah is a gift to Liberia. And we must be proud of him. We are also grateful to the management team of LAA and GLS in reaching to the defining moment, which will give rise to a modern cargo facility for the first time on the Liberian soil,” Mr. Klayee said.
He said the LAA is evolving into an airport management company, which will power the Liberia airport as destination of choice.
“With the GLS, the airport will go a very long way in alleviating problems associated with storage for cargo. With the growing number of airlines, we are now adding value to Roberts International Airport,” he said.
According to him, with the completion of the state-of-art terminal facility, the air fleet at RIA will grow faster.